Friday, January 30, 2009

Do Machines deserve rights?

Or more accurately, as the question recently asked in Wired, Do Human-like Machines Deserve Human Rights? I suggest you read the Wired article to get a clear idea of the argument.

But basically, the argument is does a humaniform machine require the same rights as a human.

In the article I read a graphic description by the author who witnessed the torching of a TMEX doll or a Tickle Me Elmo Extreme doll. Anyone familiar with the item will know that the doll would sing and tell stories while moving it's mouth in sync among other activities. The description was of course skewed toward the fate of the doll, describing it as "googling" as it burned. Far from being repulsed I couldn't hold back a gawf. As they later said, there was no feeling for the office equipment that would often fail that was far more sophisticated. And there might be the rub. Remove the eyes and you have a rather animated pillow which would never invoke such responses.

No, a pair of eyes does not a being make. But then the argument isn't about TMEXs is it. I suspect this is about much more sophisticated automata. And we find ourselves once more at "I Robots" door stoop. Again the question is at what point does a collection of parts, pulleys, pistons and such deserve the rights that are afforded humanity? Does this argument also pertain to toys and devices that share a vague resemblance to the human form? Is affirmation of the latter a slippery slope to the former? I think not. Automata, no matter how sophisticated are creatures of rote. Deviation and spontaneity are but clever misdirection. But sentience, that balance of intelligence and self-awareness tempered by the ability to question and even modify that very negligence - That is what will deserve the protection of such "rights" and therefor might not even be of human form.

So my argument is that something of human form does not instantly have "humanity" bestowed. And it's not bigotry that colors that opinion. As you have already read in the above mentioned article, given a set of eyes and the viewer is willing to imbue human feelings on a mildly clever toy, all I am saying is before the hysterics start, lets discern if there is actual humanity afoot.

Besides if Elmo and Teddy Ruxpin get together, next they might demand the vote?

Read the Wired article

Hyperion the movie one step closer to reality

There are a few stories that I can not imagine how they could ever committed to film. Dan Simmons Hyperion series has got to be the top of just about everyone's list. Hyperion is like a backwards running HG Wells Time Machine, mixed in with Farmer's Riverworld, a healthy sprinkling of Kings Gunslinger and throw in a big dollop of Martin's Dying of the Light, mix thoroughly and commit to celluloid. A complex mix of characters with two major time lines running in opposite if that doesn't sound like an impossible task.

But according to IO9 and Variety:
  • Hyperion has found its director: Scott Derrickson, the man who helped Keanu Reeves make the Earth Stand Still in last year's remake.
  • Derrickson will direct Hyperion Cantos, which combines the first two novels in the Hyperion series. The script will be written by Trevor Sands, who also recently completed work on the proposed movie version of The Six Million Dollar Man.
A screen version of The Six Million Dollar Man?! Based on the book, one would hope, and not the terrible tv treatment...shudder.

But anyway, Hyperion is a grand scale right up there with Dune and we all know how successful the industry has been at providing a screenplay that everyone is comfortable with.

<- Variety via IO9 ->

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The future of watersport?

Talk about the future of water-sport entertainment! This has got some sci-fi extreme written all over it. Any bets on how long before we see it in a science fiction flick? Wild

null - Watch more free videos

Androids: One step closer

I think for the sake of argument or maybe to start some I should define what I think an android is...because I might be totally offbase...maybe. Anyway - First Robot: Mechanical /electrical, autonomous or not, humaiform or not, for all intents a machine. Robot of course will evolve and may at some point be indistinguishable from human, but if they are still mechanical and electrical - they are a robot. Cyborg: a melding of the human and mechanical /electrical. Usually this is thought of as an "improvement" but there will come a time when you will be able to swap out most if not all your biological structures for artificial - Cyborg. Android: an artificial construct that mimics human (or other) life forms by electro-chemical and possibly mechanical means. It goes without saying that a true android would be autonomous and very likely a thinking self aware unit unto it self. I know I have oversimplified this greatly but I really did have an article in mind.

This one was in Science Daily discussing research on working artificial never networks.
From the article:
  • Research that was recently featured on the cover of Nature Physics, (researchers) have taken the first step in this direction by creating circuits and logic gates made of live nerves grown in the lab.
It would seem that neurons grown in culture, they don’t form complex ‘thinking’ networks. What scientists are working on is a way to make them more "brain" like. What has been accomplished so far, with strict controls on how the cells grow and interconnect, is to build simple logic circuits. Yes, another name for that is computer circuits. One of the researchers, Prof. Elisha Moses of the Physics of Complex Systems Department said, As we find answers, we get closer to understanding the conditions needed for creating a synthetic, many-neuron ‘thinking’ apparatus.’

Yes that sounds like what it would take to be a step closer to creating an android, or any other device that required bio vs electrical impulses.

Check out the complete article here

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

KFC's "Can't-Say-That-Word-on-Television?"

Oh this is priceless!

Remember last time we visited the fine folks at kfc they were promoting BSG with a bunch of goodies they called a "Frak Pak"? Well I just about, no I did hurt myself on that one. Well you would figure that the KFC people finding their mistake would right it in a resonably humorless way.
So did they? Nope, Not with a row of....well you know what I mean.

In their infinite wisdom KFC has changed "Frak Pak" to "Can't-Say-That-Word-on-Television?" and I find that both beautifully clueless and downright hilarious! Because the the last time I watched BSG they were saying Frak like every other word. Last time I looked that box at the end of my bed was a tv and Frak was coming out the speaker! Anyone that listened to the radio/podcast will also note that I was saying frak all the frakin time! lol

Oh my KFC how could you do everything right and get it so very very fraked up again

<- IO9 article Topless Robot article ->

Majel & Gene in space forever

IO9 is listing an article reporting that Majel's ashes will join her husband Gene Roddenberry ashes in space aboard a Celestis Inc rocket. A launch date has not been set as of yet. I am wondering if they are still trying to figure out what happened when Celestis tried to launch James "Scotty" Doohan's ashes into orbit last year, yes the operative word here is tried.

<- AFP via IO9 ->

the Media Vehicle

Filed under "is there really a need for this?" we find in an article from Dvice describing a device , that is certainly placed well within the category of techno-porn, called The Media Vehicle.

Check the pic out if you doubt my word!

From the article:
  • Inside (you will find) a large spherical display (that) acts as your virtual video experience while your legs are allowed to move freely on a movable track.
Makes me wonder why the thing is even mounted on wheels. You're never going to want to get out of the damn the seat better flip up...if ya catch my drift. But really, "The Matrix" anyone?!

Strange Asteroid Stalks the Earth

Shaun Saunders sends in an article from Universe Today and asks the question... Asteroid or alien probe?!!!

All tongue in cheek aside, asteroid 2009BD is indeed a very strange visitor. The 10 meter-wide asteroid will soon make a slow pass of the Earth, coming within 400,000 miles (644,000 km) of our planet. Before you get all w0rked up, 2009BD poses no threat to Earth now or in the future. It's the asteroids behavior that is proving interesting.

From the article:
  • Astronomers believe the rock is a rare "co-orbital asteroid" which follows the orbit of the Earth, not receding more than 0.1 AU (15 million km) away.
  • From preliminary observations, 2009 BD is projected to shadow our planet for many months (possibly years) to come. Until November 2010 at least, the asteroid will hang around the Earth, within a distance of 0.1 AU.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cloths of the Future - The Downside of Time Travel

Ok, I think I have been good, (ok so I did make you look at a robot's junk...) so I think I been good enough to post a somewhat off color video of the draw backs of fashion and time travel.

I found a really funny video on Gizmodo that describes the problems of time travel for fun and profit. Or, your past selves are always dorks... lol

Here is the new Funny or Die video, featuring Paul Scheer

Saturday, January 24, 2009

RIP: producer Charles H. Schneer

Variety is reporting the death of Hollywood producer Charles H. Schneer on 21 January 2009 in Boca Raton, Florida.

Schneer worked on many genre films, including: Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974), The Valley of Gwangi (1969), First Men in the Moon (1964), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Mysterious Island (1961), The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), and It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955).

<- complete SF Scope article ->

Aurealis Awards results for 2009

The 2009 Aurealis Awards results were announced live on their own Twitter feed, which may be afirst for an SF award. This from the Science Fiction Awards Watch blog:

Here is a partial listing, if you would like the complete listing please go to the Science Fiction Awards Watch blog:

  • Best Science Fiction Novel: Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait, K A Bedford
  • (reviewed here on BMU earlier)
  • Best Science Fiction Short Story: “The Empire, Simon Brown”
Congrats to K.A. Bedford and Simon Brown

Antipodean SF issue 128 is online!

The editor of AntipodeanSF tells me that issue 128 is now online for your reading pleasure.

Here is the selection of flash fiction stories in this month's issue:

Thumping Headache By Jill Smith
Aleeta screamed, "It's in my head again." She rocked back in her seat, then slumped forward - lifeless.

The Rebel By Julie Cohen Wornan
Clara snipped the thread, then examined the garment carefully. She gave particular attention to the counterfeit brand label sewn conspicuously onto the front right pocket.

Soon The Teeth By Kirstyn McDermott
It's growing inside of me, this thing without a name. No one believes me but I can feel it in there. Its blunt claws scratch lightly at my belly.

A Spork In The Road By Matthew Sanborn Smith
What the hell was that in the road up there? Sam pulled onto the shoulder as soon as his brain gave up on the interpretation.

All The Way Down By Angie Smibert
Cherie Larsen-Metcalf NASA Headquarters, Washington 202-867-5309

The World Is A Very Dangerous Place, Dear By Shaun A. Saunders
Lisa had just returned home when her mother trapped her in one of those 'dear, why don't we sit down and chat' spiels.

The Phone Rings By Richard Thorne
It's never a good thing when your phone rings and shows an unrecognised caller ID.

Lost In Space by Mark Farrugia
I've never believed in alien abductions. They always happen to crackpots or the mentally insane, but what else could this be?

The Virgin Strand by Ashley Hibbert
"ua mau ke ea o ka ana i ka pono" - the life of the land is established in righteousness

Hidden In Plain Sight by Felicity Dowker
The man made dangerous by delusion stood on the dais, his arms raised above his head.

<- Antipodean mag ->

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mercury and Mars - Leftover Planets.

Adding another wrinkle to the difficult task of categorizing planets, a new computer model suggests that Mercury and Mars were formed from particles ejected during the formation of Earth and Venus.

The computer model by UCLA astronomer Brad Hansen was a result of flaws in the traditional of assumption of an evenly distributed particle disk during planetary formation. One obvious flaw being that this should have resulted in the rocky planets all being essentially the same size. Hansen "proposes that the dust disk fragmented into bands of debris at various distances from the sun—much like the rings of Saturn." In this theory Earth and Venus formed in one large band, hence their similar sizes, while Mercury and Mars were formed mostly from particles ejected from the main band by the gravity of the larger planets.

One good aspect of theory is that it makes predictions that can be tested. This model predicts that "the composition of the solar system's four rocky planets should be strikingly similar" while the standard model predicts that they should vary in accordance with their distance from the sun.

Evidence that Dark Matter formed Galaxies

Here is an interesting short video I found on The Daily Galaxy blog that has Ian Morrison speaking at Gresham College in London - November of 2008. Morrison speaks on evidence that seems to indicate that dark matter began accumulating shortly after the big bang and ultimately allowed normal matter to draw together and for the galaxies as we see them today.

The Last Wizard by Shaun Saunders

I knew that Saunders was doing some writing on the sly, and I came upon a really nice short while I was looking through listings of free fiction.

Here is a neat short found in Cyberwizard Productions in the Abandoned Towers selections of general fiction. (probably why I missed it on a quick glance, I don't often venture into the general fiction areas, but there was a familiar name!)

It's called "The Last Wizard" and is a wry retelling of a supposed conversation between Tesla and Sam "Mark Twain" Clemens.

Click the story title to venture over. It's interesting to see Saunders when he isn't writing under his MallCity mantle.


<- The Last Wizard ->

James Patrick Kelly's "Don't Stop up for Nebula

I just listened to Jim Kelly read his story Don't Stop on his Free Read's page.

Jim writes about this story:
  • Here is "Don't Stop," a short story first published in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in June of 2007. It is currently on the Preliminary Ballot for the Nebula Award, given each year by the Science Fiction Writers of America.
This is a very engaging story in proper Kelly style and I suspect will do very well in this year's Nebula season.

Take a trip over to Free Reads and take a listen and see if you agree!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

KFC ! What the FRAK!!!

Yes my friends, it would appear that KFC has no Frakin clue! This from a recent Topless Robot blog post!

I can't repost the really funny article over at TR, but if you want a giggle, past seeing frak pak in the same sentence (ummm isn't that redundant? ok! ok! I'll be good!) click on over and read it for yourself. (ummm how many pieces do you get in a Frak Pak? oh I have injured myself again)

TR's Frak Pak article

BSFA Awards shortlist

Well here is something curious. I was reading new releases from the Science Fiction Awards Watch when I read this:
So I went to Jason Sanford's site and here it was....

The British Science Fiction Association has announced the shortlist for its BSFA Awards. The shortlist for fiction is:
  • Best Novel
  • Flood by Stephen Baxter
  • The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
  • The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod
  • Anathem by Neal Stephenson

  • Best Short Fiction

  • "Exhalation" by Ted Chiang (Eclipse 2)
  • "Crystal Nights" by Greg Egan (Interzone 215)
  • "Little Lost Robot" by Paul McAuley (Interzone 217)
  • "Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment" by M. Rickert (F&SF, Oct/Nov 2008)

Very interesting under any curcumstances would you not agree?

Why Geeks Will Never Rule the World

From the crazies at xkcd via Geekend comes a very telling comic that is ever so true.
I would like to say that this stuff never happens to me but truth be told.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A truely unusual robot cockpit

Oh Gizmodo is going to be the ruination of me yet. But really... I have been good, I haven't made any scatological references in months, I haven't compared anyone's physiology to certain planetary objects in a year or better, and come on - if I didn't make at least one juvenile reference at lease once a month, you would suspect that I was what - ill and sick don't apply, we already know that - not myself?

Ok - so, when you think about it ( no strike that - I think I already broke something laughing) the placement does make a ..... ok I just can't do it.

This robot model, called Chubu 01, was designed by Kazushi Kobayashi in Japan - and I suspect that it was made with those people in mind who have a childish sense of humor. and sadly the kit is only availble in Japan.

Full photo layout on of the model

Monday, January 19, 2009

EV Free Stuff

In celebration of BSFA award nominations, Escape Velocity has made three of its issues available for free PDF downloads (for a limited time). Tons of free fiction in them.

This is the word from on high from SF Signal via Quasar Dragon

So get ya free issues from Escape Velocity by clicking HERE


A recent article in SF Signal:

Sad news...

Yahoo and others are reporting that Bob May has passed away at 69.

May was known to SciFi fans as The Robot in the Lost in Space television series from the 1960s.

From the Yahoo article

  • "He always said he got the job because he fit in the robot suit," said June Lockhart, who played family matriarch Maureen Robinson. "It was one of those wonderful Hollywood stories. He just happened to be on the studio lot when someone saw him and sent him to see Irwin Allen about the part. Allen said, 'If you can fit in the suit, you've got the job.'"
This was not the only time he worked with Allen however or in the genre. May appeared in a Time Tunnel episode as well - playing of all thing Adolf Hitler in the episode called "The Kidnappers".

Bob May's home page Wiki page

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Columbia wins auction for Asimov's Foundation

Columbia won an auction late Thursday for screen rights to "Foundation,". Roland Emmerich partner Michael Wimer will produce the film, which will be directed by Emmerich.

As science fiction fans, that's about all we need to know. The Variety article reads like a brawl at the kindergarten merry-go-round at snack time between Fox and Warner Brothers. It would be comical if it weren't for the 6 figure auction price that won the bid to produce the series. Of course some fan are more than a bit worried about the Emmerich/Wimer collaboration, worried more that this could turn into a debacle, ruining a truly great science fiction masterpiece.

If you're interested in the infighting, click on the article title to read the complicated double dealing. I for one, found it tedious. Anyone got any more info on this deal?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tunguska explosion mystery solved by 3-d super computer

The 1908 Tunguska explosion that occurred in Siberia was the largest impact event in recent history. The real surprise though is the asteroid that caused the event may have been only a fraction as large as previously published estimates - this according to Sandia National Laboratories researchers.

The point that researchers want to point out is that even though the Tunguska asteroid was far smaller than originally estimated. The resulting explosion was 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Further, the chances of impacts from smaller bodies is far greater than those of larger ones. With this in mind, efforts should be redoubled to track the smaller asteroid bodies. Now that impact characteristics are more clearly understood, and the resulting explosions can be much greater than previously understood.

<- read more of the Daily Galaxy article on the Tunguska event ->

Is Mars still alive?

According to a recent post on Science Daily, some scientists feel it is very likely. Why? According to the article:
  • A team of NASA and university scientists has achieved the first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars. This discovery indicates the planet is either biologically or geologically active.
Scientists studied Mars over several Martian years with NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility and the W.M. Keck telescope, both at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Spectrograph analysis showed the distinct pattern for methane. This compound is rapidly destroyed in the Martian atmosphere, so it's presence indicates some ongoing process is releasing the gas.

Not enough is known about Mars' geology or the presence or absence of life to make a definitive theory on the source of methane. Researchers hope future missions, like NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, may help to discover the origin of Martian methane.

Trailer: Planet 51

This one looks to be fun. A reversal on the alien first contact scenario. Here a totally clueless Human astronaut drops into the middle of a 1950s style alien suburbia who are utterly and completely xenophobic!

The film is CG animation with a great list of actors lending their talents to the voices. Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson is the hapless "alien" Chuck which should be ahhhh interesting.

Thanks to IO9

Live Action BeBop with Reeves is a go.

As I reported early in 2008, Keanu Reeves had been slotted to play futuristic bounty hunter Spike Spiegel in a live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime series Cowboy Bebop. At that time it was something of an up in the air thing but now Variety reports that this is indeed the case.

Reeves will take on the role of Spike, an adventurous bounty hunter traveling through space in 2071.

PopWatch online asks an interesting question though... Who would you like to see cast as paternal cyborg Jet, sassy femme Faye, and girly techno-savant Ed?

Asking me I instantly go to who would play Ed: Gigi Edgley best known for her role as Chiana on the science fiction TV series Farscape. She practicly had the look of Ed in the makeup of Chiana and the odd mannerisms wouldn't be much of a stretch.

On the same line...Claudia Black as Faye. Tell me you can't see that. Not her Farscape persona but as Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 That's faye through and through!

Jet is proving to be a tough nut...Ben Browder would be good for the interaction he has between Black and Edgley, but he doesn't feel like a Jet but I really think Adam Baldwin doing something along the lines of his Firefly Jayne Cobb role would fit right in with the theme of not cowboy but the character feel.

Oh WAIT!!!! RON PEARLMAN!!!! now that would be SWEEEEEEEEET!

Ideas people? Variety

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lab created life: tantalizingly close

Shaun Saunders sends in an article from Live Science that has been a science fiction staple for as long as I can remember: Lab created life.

Scientists have created something in the lab that "is not life" they say but something that copies some of the same basic structures and functions that are the hallmark of life.

From the article:
  • The researchers, at the Scripps Research Institute, created molecules that self-replicate and even evolve and compete to win or lose.
  • The researchers synthesized RNA enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely.
  • More significantly, the scientists then mixed different RNA enzymes that had replicated, along with some of the raw material they were working with, remarkably, they bred.
<- more ->

RIP: Ricardo Montalban

MSNBC just announced that Ricardo Montalban, has died at the age of 88. Montalban is best know in SF circles for his portrayal of Khan Noonien Singh, one of Star Trek's more memorable villains ("Space Seed" and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) and to a lesser extent for playing Armando, a sympathetic circus owner in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971). He is best known to mainstream audiences for playing Mr. Roarke on the somewhat genre related show Fantasy Island.

He too will be missed.

RIP: Patrick McGoohan

IO9 reports that actor Patrick McGoohan has passed away at 80. McGoohan is known for a number of high profile projects - but it is safe to say that he is best known to genre fans as number 6 on the 60s television program "The Prisoner".

If you need your memory jogged: The Prisoner, the story of a spy who decides to resign, and then finds himself kidnapped and trapped in an idyllic village where everyone is a number and the village leaders are trying to break him. The Prisoner was surreal and disturbing, with an ending episode so twisted that it defies explanation to this day.

McGoohan earlier had turned down the role of James Bond and later that of Simon Templer better known as the Saint. As a curious co-incidence Roger Moore played both James Bond in the movies and Simon Templer on tv.

McGoohan died in Los Angeles after a short illness on January 13, 2009

<- complete IO9 article ->

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To See Before Time

Seeing before time sounds like a poetic fancy or the end of a bad SF story in which God's hand is seen creating the universe, but an upcoming ESA satellite, Planck, may allow scientists to do just that, in a manner of speaking.

A recent challenge for scientists has been that fact that the universe seems to have larger "fluctuations in the density and temperature of the radiation left over from the theoretical Big Bang" on one side of the universe. Clara Moskowitz notes on that Planck, launching this year, should be able to determine if the universe's lopsidedness is real or merely an artifact of less sensative data collection.

The standard model of Inflation cannot account for this perceived variation but a recently published model by Caltech astrophysicists Sean Carroll and Marc Kamionkowski and graduate student Adrienne Erickcek theorizes that two separate fields are necessary for inflation to account for this.

If the universe's unevenness is real then the new model will provide not only an explanation for current conditions but also a small window into pre-Big Bang conditions, effectively seeing before the begining of time (the Big Bang).

Catherine Asaro's "The Spacetime Pool" available online

More and more authors are coming to realize that if they want to reach the biggest audience possible, they have to consider adding the internet/web to their strategy. As the prelim listing for the Nebula awards makes it's rounds I see several author that aren't afraid to wade in early. Take for example Catherine Asaro. I was just reading in SFScope's blog that she has release her novella The Spacetime Pool on her Facebook page. It is well worth searching it out. My only complaint is that the story was released first in chapters as kind of a "here it is, if you like it, buy it" idea. Nothing wrong with that....the problem is that the rest of the story has been released in the same manner....and in slightly different places on her page. I know....its a BS complaint, however if I am a voting member for Nebula or Hugo awards, I just would reather sit back and read the offering in one go and not have to search for parts. But that is me.

Oh and if anyone finds it listed differently let me know and I will updat asap.

<- Catherine Asaros' facebook page ->


Catherine said... Thank you for the post about the novella. I much appreciate it. You can indeed now find the full text in one chunk, at

Trailer: T:28

Did anyone watch Gigantor when they were younger? I have always enjoyed good animation and the stylize imaged of anime have always had their appeal. That being said, I never really "got" Gigantor. The images were often sureal, but the story-lines really reminded me more of Saturday morning cartoons. So it never caught on with me.

Now we have the offerings coming out of the same studio that is producing Astro-boy, Imagi Studios. They have produced a really good trailer that would appear is faithful to the original manga series, but so much better rendered than I ever remember that series being. If you have or haven't been a fan of Gigantor, take a look at this trailer for the animated movie T:28. I don't think you will be disapointed.

<- IO9 article ->

Monday, January 12, 2009

Finalists: 2008 Philip K. Dick Awards w/updates

SF-Signal has posted the finalists for the 2008 Philip K. Dick award.

This award is given to the best original paperback published each year in the U.S.

  • Emissaries from the Dead by Adam-Troy Castro (Eos)
  • Endgame by Kristine Smith removed as ineligible and replaced by
  • Plague War by Jeff Carlson (Ace Books)
  • Fast Forward 2 edited by Lou Anders (Pyr)
  • Judge by Karen Traviss (Eos)
  • Terminal Mind by David Walton (Meadowhawk Press)
  • Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by K.A. Bedford (EDGE) ( reviewed in BMU blog here )
*UPDATE! Justyn Perry-Marketing Director-Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing- has just informed me that Bedford's Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait has been short listed for the AUREALIS (Australia's premier award for science fiction literature) as well as the PKD award! Bedford's comment on his back-to-back listings by simply stating, "I'm gobsmacked!"

EDGE publisher Brian Hades stated in an interview, "We are extremely proud of Adrian.

New NASA moon buggy

I know I have reported some of the earlier variations on this platform. However I think this is the most pratical use for this multi-wheeled transporter.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mac vs Pc Transformer style

Getting tired of the ole one one one Mac vs Pc commercials? How about a short film that turns the whole affair into a transformer battle?

The start is a bit weak with oh Macs suck big time stuff....but then everything goes sideways.

Great fun! Thanks to Hack n Mod for the find

Would You Boycott Science Fiction Writers Because Of Their Politics?

From IO9 blog - who loves to live on the edge - comes a really interesting poll. The poll has one question - "Would You Boycott Science Fiction Writers Because Of Their Politics?"

Made ya stop and think didn't it.... Would you not buy or read a writer's work because you disagree or dislike their political ideology?

For me it is more or maybe less complicated. My choice would be a bit more than left right independent, republican, democrat or what have you. At different times, I know that I have abandoned a writer when their belief set or religious beliefs ran counter to my own. It really is more to it as you might suspect. When this set of beliefs bleeds into the writings, when the income from those writings help support them and when finally aggressive and negative tactics are used to control public opinion as such - when something along those lines takes place then yes, I would "boycott" a writer. But then, I may have added to many qualifiers into the mix. Because I think "politics" tries to simplify the question. It is in truth, it should read, if you found a writer's ideology objectionable or repellent, would you support them through purchasing of their writings?

Still - you might read it different. Take a trip over to the IO9 questionaire and weigh in.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Review: Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon

Victory Conditions
Elizabeth Moon
Release 2008
HC $26 PB $7.99

Other books in the series Command Decision, Engaging the Enemy, Marque and Reprisal, Trading in Danger

The first thing that surprised me about this book is just that it's the fifth book. What does it mean when a serial novel like the Vatta Wars seems much shorter? Is it really that good? Now there is the 10 thousand dollar question isn't it......

In the fifth installment, Ky Vatta has wrangled herself into the leadership of the Space Defense Force with herself as Admiral Vatta. Problem being the SDF is total bluff and sham consisting of her rag tag collection of converted merchant ships. Her cousin Stella has been given the daunting task of rebuilding what is left of Vatta enterprises and Aunt Grace is consolidating her power base back on Slotter Keys. Toby has proved himself an electronic genius by devising an ansible that will change the course of history. Rafe has disappeared back to his home to find his family and start restoring ICS to its previous heights. Ky slowly builds up her fleet but it is clear that her opponent ruthless space pirate Gammis Turek vastly out weights her in manpower and ships. He has made it clear that his intentions are nothing less than total subjugation of Human space and obliteration of Ky and her family.

As impossible as it seems, Moon manages to tie up these loose ends and an equal amount of new ones that crop up in Victory Conditions. By the end she has a very tidy if somewhat Gordian knot with just enough mystery to build another series upon. But the Vatta Wars are ended with book five and I suspect that there are enough (small but interesting) openings in this volume to expand on the milieu if not the series.

Victory Conditions is a well paced book. Many of the male characters are two dimensional, however to be honest they are not major players either. Moon's canvas may be broad and her cast of character large, however her main characters are always in focus even if their motivations are a bit simplistic. I really put down the fourth volume and picked up the fifth without pause. I enjoyed the story line that much. Yes its a bit of a space opera but that's not a bad thing when balanced with a small personalized cast. Victory Conditions is a recommended read for those of you that have read the series. It doesn't stand well on it's own but then it wasn't supposed to. I suggest that if this book intrigues you then get or read the previous volumes first, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Nebula Awards draft

As reported, here are the draft Preliminary Ballot for the Nebula Awards for 2008. This is a rough list, but gives you an idea of what the award season is going to look like.

According to Brook West, the final ballot will be mailed in early March.For those of you wondering what the Nebulas are vs Hugos Here is the description of who votes and for what as concerns the Nebula. (the Hugos are fan votes)

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. Founded as the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1965 by Damon Knight, the organization began with a charter membership of 78 writers; it now has over 1,400 members, among them most of the leading writers of science fiction and fantasy. The Nebula Awards Weekend will be held April 24-26

Novels: Daniel Abraham, : A Betrayal in Winter
Chris Barzak, : One for Sorrow
Emma Bull, : Territory
Cory Doctorow, : Little Brother
Kathleen Ann Goonan, : In War Times
Ursula K Le Guin, .: Powers
Jack McDevitt, : Cauldron
Ian McDonald: Brasyl
Terry Pratchett: Making Money
Patrick Rothfuss: The Name of the Wind

Catherine Asaro: The Spacetime Pool
Gregory Benford: Dark Heaven
Kelley Eskridge: Dangerous Space
Charles Coleman Finlay: The Political Prisoner

Rochard Bowes: If Angels Fight
Michael F. Flynn : Quaestiones Super Caelo et Mundo
James Alan Gardner: The Ray-Gun: A Love Story
Lisa Goldstein: Dark Rooms
John Kessel: Pride and Prometheus
Ted Kosmatka: The Prophet of Flores
David Moles: Finisterra
Johanna Sinisalo: Baby Doll
K.D. Wentworth: Kaleidoscope

Short Stories:
Mike Allen: The Button Bin
Michael Cassutt: Skull Valley
Sheila Finch: Stranger Than Imagination Can
Jeffrey Ford: The Dreaming Wind
Samantha Henderson: Bottles
M.K. Hobson.: The Hotel Astarte
Kij Johnson: 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss
Gwyneth Jones: The Tomb Wife (read on BMU 110)
James Patrick Kelly: Don't Stop
Brian Plante: The Astronaut
Mary Rickert: Holiday
Ken Scholes: Summer in Paris, Light From the Sky
James Van Pelt: How Music Begins (read on BMU 116)

<- SFWA via SF Watch ->

Weirdness in 2012?

Now if you're smart, you take everything that Fox News says with a grain of salt. But this is interesting just for it's tie-in. Unless you live in a cave you have heard about the Mayan prediction that 2012A.D. spells some bad times for us and mother Earth.

According to the Wikipedia:
  • (2012) Mesoamerican Long Count calendar ... completes its thirteenth b'ak'tun cycle since the calendar's mythical starting point. The Long Count b'ak'tun date of this starting point ( is repeated, for the first time in a span of approximately 5,125 solar years. The significance of this period-ending to the pre-Columbian Maya themselves is unclear, and there is an incomplete that records this date.
Though unclear, many have taken the path of least resistance and gone straight to doom-saying.
That being said, the Fox News report note one very real occurrence about to take place in 2012 that really could raise havoc around the world.

Shaun points out that this article notes that the next peak in solar activity is expected to come around 2012. What could that possible mean to us. Well past solar burst have caused telegraph wires to short out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires. This happened during a major solar storm in 1859, In 1989, the a peak knocked out power to all of Quebec, Canada. 2003 had several peaks included 10 major solar flares over a two-week period, knocking out two Earth-orbiting satellites and crippling an instrument aboard a Mars orbiter.

As Shaun points out, much like his story "Last Light" (which I read on an earlier program) a major electro-magnetic blast will devastate modern society, disabling if not destroying communications and computational centers. Interesting times huh?

<- more from Fox Story + 2012 in the Wikipedia ->

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ender's Game movie still a possibility?

Have you noticed that there seems to be some pretty steady news about O.S.Card's Ender's Game lately?

Last April we reported that Wolfgang Peterson was off the Ender's Game live action project.
A short while ago I found out that Card was rewriting the ending of his novel Ender's Game.

Well the news just keeps on perculating. Along with it some spicy speculation as well. According to a new article in IO9, Card, according to one of the films producers, in an LA Times interview this week regarding the film said:
  • “[Card] was not interested in a ‘tough-hero action film’ and refuses to condescend to green-screen Hollywood. Card imagines a ‘film where the human relationships are absolutely essential — an honest presentation of the story.’”
Producer Lynn Hendee insists that the "project is not dead."

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Video: Why bullets are better than laser cannons

Or why rocks still hurt! Oh I really do love Geekend, they are always coming up with interesting stuff. Here Jay Garmon puts up a short video on why when push comes to shove the weapon of choice is going to be some variation on a thrown rock for space battles. Oh I can hear the howls of protest way, there will be laser and all kinds of cool death beams in the future! Well in a word NO. The key word is efficiency and the good ole rock with enough speed behind it is pretty damn convincing and damn efficient.

Check out the video and think about it for a moment and you will sorry the pun, see the light

<- Geekend via Tech Republic ->

Death by Black Hole

I love to listen to Neil DeGrasse Tyson when he speaks about astro-physics. He has an uncanny way of making the the working of the cosmos something even the most jaded person would find interesting and humorous.

Here in this short, Dr. Tyson talks about what it would be like to fall into a black hole. The short is from a much longer talk that takes in many different ways the cosmos is trying to kill us as we speak. Yes, he is that fun to listen to. If you like the short, click on the article title to be directed to the longer piece.

<- via boing boing ->

Celestia, Impressive Free Planetarium

Celestia is a very impressive, and free, planetarium that "Unlike most planetarium software, ... doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy." Also, unlike other planetarium software, it has a huge repository of optional add-ons that include Science Fiction worlds and vessels from Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and others.

I've recently been enjoying this software, though I haven't had time to read the manual, which is probably necessary. Still just using it to view the planets in the solar system in real time is interesting enough. Even just using it for its opening view of the Earth as it rotates in real time is worth the download.

It is available free for windows, mac, and linux HERE and its add on repository is HERE.

Lego Star Wars Movie: Anakin rescues Yoda from Count Dooku:

Never ceases to amaze how many people continue to do Star Wars reenactments. Some are funny, some are talented with the balance just horrible. So where do we put a lego reenactment with bad voice overs? Well brother Hollis would have me believe that its funny.... well he is half right.

So for your viewing pleasure Lego Star Wars Movie: Anakin rescues Yoda from Count Dooku:

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

9 a short film by Shane Acker

I really have to say that I really enjoy the short film venue. A whole cinematic vision has to be compressed into a perishlingly small framework - the hiku of the film world maybe.

Sometimes it fails miserably and then there are other times when the viewer is caught in the ultra bright beam that allows you to view the film-maker's vision.

Here is a prime example. A short film by Shane Acker, who has created a short film called 9. According to SF-Signal Acker is now expanding this concept into a feature length version that looks to be every bit as astounding as the short version.

As science fiction fan, we have seen many things that are astounding and wonderful and thought provoking, it's just they are not often all in the same package at the same time. It is with 9... enjoy

And if you like your Science Fiction witha side of Surreal

You do? Well you're going to love this. How about a science fiction anthology in the form of a browser add on? That's what I said....

Ethan Ham writing for Boing Boing says:
  • recently released “Tumbarumba,” a project by Benjamin Rosenbaum and myself (Ethan Ham). Tumbarumba is an anthology in the form of a browser add-on. To read the stories, readers must stumble upon them while browsing the web. The browser add-on will occasionally insert a story fragment into a web page as it loads it. The result is a disorienting surreal sentence that sometimes is nonsensical and sometimes amusingly close making sense. If the reader spots the fragment, they can interact with it in a way that will cause the full story to appear—albeit in the format of the web page on which it was found.
  • The authors in the anthology are:

    Haddayr Copley-Woods, Greg van Eekhout, Stephen Gaskell, James Patrick Kelly, Mary Anne Mohanraj, David Moles, John Phillip Olsen, Tim Pratt, Kiini Ibura Salaam, David J. Schwartz, Heather Shaw, Jeff Spock

If this isn't the coolest thing!

<- Tumbarumba ->

Monday, January 05, 2009

What's faster & more massive than the Milky Way?

Why the new Milky Way - that's what! Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array of the Milky Way say our home Galaxy is rotating about 100,000 miles per hour faster than previously understood. And basic physics tells us that if the spin is greater than the mass must be as well. 50% more it would appear. And the speed? Let me tell you about the speed! The new observations indicate, we're moving at about 600,000 miles per hour in our Galactic orbit, up from the previous estimate of 500,000 miles per hour. Plus the extra mass puts the Milky Way on par with the Andromeda Galaxy.

The downside to the extra mass is that mass makes a collision with Andromeda or another galaxy in our local group much more likely.....

Science Daily has a real good article on this new finding. < - more ->

Gas Giant - Grow fast or die!

Now here is a discovery that must blow a big hole in planet formation theories. If you have been noticing lately, Jupiter class extra-solar planets have been found with surprising ease over the past few years. But according to observations done with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the jovian gas giants are under the gun when it comes to formation.

Smithsonian astronomers examined the 5 million-year-old star cluster NGC 2362 and found the infra-red tell-tale of planetary formation...but with a twist.

According to the Science Daily blog:
  • They found that all stars with the mass of the Sun or greater have lost their proto-planetary disks. Only a few stars less massive than the Sun retain their proto-planetary disks. These disks provide the raw material for forming gas giants like Jupiter. Therefore, gas giants have to form in less than 5 million years or they probably won't form at all.
The forces that play into gas giant formation are not yet clearly understood, however it is clear that these mechanisms are both fast and extremely efficient.

<- more ->

Sunday, January 04, 2009

2009 let the weirdness begin!

I know, as a general rule, I don't make a habit of reporting the weird (oh I know....I have crossed the line on one is perfect! lol) But I was on IO9's blog and just couldn't resist a couple of really weird starts to the year.

Like finding out that Cosplay really does have a function! Cosplay, for you uninitiated, is for all intents dressing up as your favorite fictional character.

According to the Daily Telegraph:
  • On January 1st In Edinburgh, Scotland, Torvald Alexander came home from a "costume party" dressed head to toe as Thor. Upon entering his domain, he caught a mere mortal burglar in the act of making off with his worldly possessions. The thief - clearly not realizing he was messing with the gods - was so scared of the 6-foot tall Alexander dressed like a hammer-thumping crazy, he took off.

Essex police arrested a man on Thursday on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon after he had been spotted carrying a longbow, and a search of his apartment freaked officers out enough that they evacuated 100 nearby homes and called in bomb disposal experts to deal with what were classed as "unexplained items." Sadly, said items had a very simple explanation, as a police spokesman was later forced to admit:
  • Bomb disposal officers attended and carried out an assessment. No items of danger were found in the premises. Initial concerns were raised by the crude adaptions of many household items into science fiction style equipment.
What this means is that the arrested gent was into what is more popularly referred to as"steam-punk" which is making normal items look like they are driven by Victorian Steam Technologies, but in virtually all cases are non-functional or work in a different or limited fashion. But I have to ask...what person who wants to cause mayhem is going to go traipsing about with bronze age weaponry? I didn't think so....

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Robot Evolution

What if robots evolved like other life-forms? Interesting idea huh? Well here is a very interesting take on that subject in the form of a German Saturn commercial.

I have to agree with suicide bots and say very cool

Saturn Au Natural

In this age of punching everything we see up with this or that enhancement or multi-spectral photos that really, when you come to think about it, don't have a whole lot to do with the original, it's nice to see something that is truly stunning in its' natural state.

Take for instance this photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft in July, showing Saturn as a glowing beauty. This composite photo released yesterday shows what Saturn looks like in its natural state, without any enhancements or coloration.

I have looked through my own scope and seen something very much like what is shown here. It truly is every bit as amazing as this photo shows. Not everything needs a fist full of filters and
false colors.